Friday, September 02, 2005

We're from the government and we're here to help you

Here's a good article regarding the piss-poor bungled Federal response to the Katrina disaster:

Department of Homeland Screw-Up
What is the Bush administration doing?
By Tim Naftali

A relevant quote:

"Chertoff's Department of Homeland Security demonstrated today that it could organize an impressive press conference in Washington, lining up every participating civilian or military service from the Coast Guard to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to promise its cooperation. But on the ground in Louisiana, where it counts, DHS is turning out to be the sum of its inefficient parts. The department looks like what its biggest critics predicted: a new level of bureaucracy grafted onto a collection of largely ineffectual under-agencies."

I have worked as a staff level civil servant in Washington, and I can tell eveyone that the spectacle described is not an isolated incident. My experience was that all the managers seem to care about are media events and budgets and "small-p" political infigting (office politics rather than Democrat and Republican politics) and "looking good." The mission of the agency seems to be secondary. Frankly, I think that most bureaucrats at grades GS-15 and above who work in Washington are seriously disconected from reality. Their staffs aren't, but the higher ups don't seem to care too much about the staff, unless the staffer causes them to "look bad." So it's a little difficlt to tell hard truths to these prima donnas and expect any career advancement.

There was a time when I was a little upset that my Federal career wasn't advancing as fast as I thought it should. Then I saw what kind of people were getting promoted to the higher positions, and I realized that I should feel good, becuase at least nobody thought I was one of those bozos. What the heck, I have only a few more years, and then I can retire. But God help the people of the United States. On the other hand, considering the public's confused views of what the mutual obligations between individuals and ociety, maybe the people are getting the government they deserve.



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